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Bills camp: rookie Matt Araiza holding firm to top spot in punter competition

Not surprisingly, the Bills’ draft pick is passing the veteran.

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Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

With a nickname like “Punt God” (get your shirts here), Buffalo Bills’ rookie punter Matt Araiza has lofty expectations entering the NFL. Araiza has been earning accolades during the early portion of camp not just for booming punts, but also for holding on Tyler Bass kicks. That’s going to be the area he needs to prove himself.

Araiza wasn’t just a punter in college, he was also the kicker for San Diego State. Because of the dual role, he never held for extra points of kicks, something he is being asked to do in the NFL. For those who have been monitoring his holds during camp, he’s been sure-handed.

Special teams coordinator Matt Smiley said holding would be a small part of the punter evaluation, but it’s a box Araiza had to check. It looks like he is in fact satisfying that requirement to this point.

The Buffalo media’s resident punting scholar, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic, has been tracking all of the punts in camp, as well. At the end of Monday’s practice, he posted his first week of data and there is little surprise in his findings. Araiza outkicked incumbent Matt Haack 48.4 yards to 43.1 yards in average distance, although Haack’s hangtime has been slightly better at a 4.46-second to 4.39-second time span.

Buscaglia also notes that Araiza has been more consistent. If you recall watching Haack in 2021, he had several stinkers.

Everything we’ve seen to this point indicates Araiza is going to be the guy by roster cutdowns. They’re giving him every practice rep as the holder and he’s outkicking Haack using most metrics.